for the future


    Pointers For Parents

from Christine Maestri


1.    Each year choose a Christmas carol that will be the family carol for that year. And part of this ritual will be learning ALL the verses of that song. Have you ever noticed that people tend to learn just the first verse of a carol? For instance, Hark the Herald Angels has 4 verses, O Little Town of Bethlehem has 5 verses and The First Noel has 6 verses. You can find all the lyrics on the Internet, go to or borrow a songbook from your church.

Learning the verses will be as fun as singing them. Remember to add hand motions to the song, so you can easily remind a child with sign language what the next line will be. The Twelve Days of Christmas has great sign language for each verse. (Actually it's acting out some of the verses that is so much fun as in 10 lords a leaping&Mac226;.

2.    Here is a present idea for someone on your Christmas list. Give them a certificate (hand made, of course) for a bouquet of flowers to be delivered sometime in the oncoming winter months. People get so many things at Christmas; it's nice to spread the giving throughout the year. And there's nothing more wonderful than flowers on a blustery January day. Have your child draw a picture of flowers to enclose in the card. The other nice part of this present is the visit to that friend.

3.    Cold time is coming on and this is an excellent remedy for children as well as adults - ginger tea with lemon. Heat hot water, grate a bit of ginger, squeeze some lemon, and add honey or stevia. It's delightful. The lemon gives you Vitamin C to strengthen your stamina, and the ginger helps soothe. Ginger is traditionally used as a medicine, internally for the stomach, and externally for pains, like toothache. You will find ginger root in the produce section of the grocery store. It keeps forever in the frig. Ginger powder doesn't work as well as the root. But if you only have the powder it will do. Grate the root or sprinkle the powder into a cup. Mix in the honey and lemon, and then add hot water. This might become a family favorite, even when one is not sick. My husband remembers his grandma drinking ginger tea by the wood stove and the aroma filled the house. The fragrance always brings him back to that old house and fond memories of grandma.

4.    Making a Christmas stocking can be a fun project to do with your child. Use felt for the stocking. Thread a needle with a contrasting colored thread and let your child do a running stitch around the edge of the stocking. Cut slits along the top of the stocking and let your child thread a piece of ribbon through. (Tie the end of the ribbon to a large safety pin, and use the pin as a needle of sorts.) Use Elmer's Glue All (not Elmer's School Glue) to carefully attach sequins and glitter to the stocking. Discuss with your child whether the sequins should be random, make a picture, or write a name. Sketching with a pen first, then draw with glue, then sprinkle. You can also add lovely accents or borders with glitter. The stocking will be a lovely handmade present to give. And filling it with treats is fun too. It may be a long time since grandma or an aunt has had a Christmas stocking.

5.    We came upon this delightful Christmas ornament by accident. The children and I had been peeling oranges and the skins lay on the table. Cassandra commented that one looked like a moon. It did. Soon we were seeing shapes in all the peels. And then we discovered that orange peels are very soft and thus very easy to cut into any shape. We spread glue on the white side and sprinkled the glue with glitter. It was easy to use a paper clip to punch a hole in the soft skin so an ornament hanger could slide through. And the best part of this ornament is the fragrance, that delightful sweet orange. The skin eventually dehydrates and becomes quite hard, but it still carries the fragrance from year to year. Let's see, my orange and blue glitter moon is now 9 years old.

6.    New Year's Eve is a tradition that children yearn to be part of. Remember that technically children do not have to stay up until midnight. At 9:00 or 10:00, it's midnight somewhere in the world. The Dutch and Spanish have New Year traditions that are fun for children. In Holland, children sweep the old year out the back door, and then quickly run across the house to open the front door and let the New Year in. (Make sure you have enough brooms by the back door.) In Spain, at the stroke of midnight, people eat a grape for each of the twelve strokes to bring them good luck in the coming year.

Teaching Values: Uses accelerated learning methods and storytelling. Recommended lists of children's books and videos.


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